Standards > Legislation > United States >

National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended — Analysis
Source: Historical Survey of U.S. Preservation Legislation, MATRIX, Indiana University Bloomington

A. The premier CRM legislation in the United States. Developed out of concerns for preservation of cities and towns in the wake of post-World War II highway programs and urban development. Drafted by legal experts of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, NHPA was passed in 1966 and amended in 1976, 1980, and 1992.

B. Essential Provisions of NHPA:

1) Established National Register of Historic Places.

2) Established an Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

3) Established grant-in-aid program to the states.

4) Required development of State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) and state preservation plans.

5) Section 106 required heads of federal agencies to "take into account" the effect of undertakings (i.e., federally funded, permitted, licensed projects) on "any district, site, building, structure or object that is included in the National Register."

C. Importance of NHPA:

1) Created the fundamental system of cultural resource management that is still in use today.

2) Stimulated preservation efforts in the states.

3) Required federal agencies to be responsible for identifying and dealing with cultural resources, thus decentralizing the preservation effort among the federal departments.

4) Stimulated the development of cultural resources archaeology, which would eventually create a private and public sector of the archaeological profession that did not exist to any degree before. Archaeological compliance surveys became common especially after President Nixon issued Executive Order 11593 in 1971, which, among other things, required federal agencies to conduct inventories of historic properties under Section 106 that might qualify for the National Register. The original language of Section 106 in 1966 only stated that federal agency heads had to consider properties in the National Register, not those (like most archaeological sites) that might be eligible but were not obvious. Nixon's order addressed that problem, which was finally resolved in the 1976 amendment of NHPA.

A. The premier CRM legislation in the United States. Developed out of concerns for preservation of cities and towns in the wake of post-World War II highway programs and urban development. Drafted by legal experts of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, NHPA was passed in 1966 and amended in 1976, 1980, and 1992.

B. Essential Provisions of NHPA:

1) Established National Register of Historic Places.

2) Established an Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

3) Established grant-in-aid program to the states.

4) Required development of State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) and state preservation plans.

5) Section 106 required heads of federal agencies to "take into account" the effect of undertakings (i.e., federally funded, permitted, licensed projects) on "any district, site, building, structure or object that is included in the National Register."

C. Importance of NHPA:

1) Created the fundamental system of cultural resource management that is still in use today.

2) Stimulated preservation efforts in the states.

3) Required federal agencies to be responsible for identifying and dealing with cultural resources, thus decentralizing the preservation effort among the federal departments.

4) Stimulated the development of cultural resources archaeology, which would eventually create a private and public sector of the archaeological profession that did not exist to any degree before. Archaeological compliance surveys became common especially after President Nixon issued Executive Order 11593 in 1971, which, among other things, required federal agencies to conduct inventories of historic properties under Section 106 that might qualify for the National Register. The original language of Section 106 in 1966 only stated that federal agency heads had to consider properties in the National Register, not those (like most archaeological sites) that might be eligible but were not obvious. Nixon's order addressed that problem, which was finally resolved in the 1976 amendment of NHPA.

  © 2002-2012 Heritage Stewardship     contact